Reflecting on the last six months, the IMD MBA experience has offered some major surprises for MBA participant, Campbell Brown.

It’s been great to get some hard skills back under the belt, and there has been plenty of business strategy required by the challenging IMD cases. However, it’s the softer side of the program that seems to be driving the greater value at a personal level.

A big tent always gives better insight

Diversity in the modern world is incredibly important. One of the modern assessment tests (NEO) has a category for openness, and a subsection for ‘tolerating diversity’. I actually find this slightly underdone, because I think it should be ‘celebrating diversity’.

Being the year we are, our MBA class travelled across the world to pursue an international MBA during a pandemic. It’s therefore no surprise that our cohort is very high on openness. But there is a difference between saying it and living it. Participating in the newly launched MBA ally program (thanks to @sandeep and @alicia) kick-off this year, and hearing the speakers during Women’s Day, have been critical in sharpening my focus on diversity.

But it was working with classmates who developed ideas previously completely out of my line of sight, which really taught me the value of a “big tent”. Any structure I put together in my head was immediately improved by discussing it with our wider group, reinforced by the amazing background of each of my classmates.

This has made me genuinely appreciate how important and valuable a role diversity has.

The generosity of the community

I expected that my classmates and our MBA environment would be supportive. However, what has immensely surprised me is how generous so many participants, faculty and admin are with their time for each of us. 

Even more surprising is how generous the wider IMD community has been. Alumni have offered their time through mentoring, mock interviews or case preparation. Some have taken extensive amounts of personal time to travel to IMD to be in person with us. They have shared their knowledge of their organisations, and helped us improve our learning. Enough can not be said about how big-hearted this community is.

On a personal note, alumni who I have contacted have been relentlessly helpful. Getting insight into some of the more interesting companies in the world through the generosity of the IMD network has been very impressive!

Even more impressive is the feeling of community that is instilled through the help.

Expectations have been vastly exceeded

Having previously spent my work life eschewing workplace-based mantras, I began an MBA with the personal development elective. Each participant has the option to pursue 20 sessions with a Jungian psychoanalyst.

I actually felt a little out of place. 

Thinking out aloud, “I’ve got to finish the finance valuation because I have a personal development psychotherapy session and a meeting with my leadership coach” seems intensely unlike my former self. What is even more surprising, is how difficult the whole experience is; change can be hard.

Not surprisingly, no one from my class volunteered to share details of their analyst sessions in a published blog.

What I feel very comfortable saying is that paying attention to your inner motivation is immensely important if you want to contribute externally. This, now more than ever, is incredibly important. Being confident in bringing your whole self to work looks to be the way to be happier, more productive and to drive better outcomes.

It has been a great learning journey so far; and now I am looking forward to another intensive six months ahead!


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